Neal Francis and Danielle Ponder Share The Ark’s Stage

First Time Performing Together

Sharing the stage is a new thing for The Ark’s January 26th headliner Neal Francis and special guest Danielle Ponder. Francis admits, “I haven’t yet met or performed with Danielle. I love her music and I’m excited to see her show. The Ark show will be our second time performing together on this tour.” They are touring together through the beginning of February.

It should be an exciting evening with music Francis describes as “70’s Pop Pastiche. I’ve also heard it called Station Wagon Rock, which I like.” Combine that with Ponder’s soul music, which she said is “influenced by other genres such as trip hop and alternative music” and you are in for an absolute auditory treat.

About Neal Francis

Francis started playing piano around age three and began lessons when he was four. He said he has been experimenting with his own compositions for as long as he can remember.

While both of his parents “are lovers of music and supported [his] musical education and exploration.” He said his “mother’s family piano was in [the] house growing up. She played a little and encouraged [him] to play, showing [him] things here and there.”

Although he’s never been to The Ark before, in 2019 Francis opened for Lee Fields at the Blind Pig. “Half our band is from Michigan so we will likely have a lot of familiar faces there [at the Ark], and that’s always something to look forward to. Kellen Boesrsma, guitar, is from Holland, and Collin O’Brien, drums, is from Grand Rapids.” The fourth bandmate is Mike Starr, the bassist.

Francis said his plans for the future include “working on a live record and a new original LP that I hope will drop later this year. I’m loving the present moment and so grateful I get to live this life.”

His next album, Sentimental Garbage, is available for pre-order.

About Danielle Ponder

Although Ponder was a little bit older than Francis when she started playing music, she was still quite young.

The sixth of seven children, she recalls, “I received a guitar from my father when I was 16 and that inspired me to begin writing songs. Around the same time I heard blues singers such as Koko Taylor and Big Mama Thornton, I was enthralled by their voices and wanted to figure out how to do that.”

Her dad, a pastor, plays and sings himself. In fact, her family formed a band and she performed with them throughout college.

Ponder pursued a career in law as a public defender, but music was always in her heart. It finally got to the point where she felt she had to choose and in 2018 music won out. In 2022, she released her eight-song debut album, Some of Us Are Brave.

Tickets are Still Available, but Hurry!

Head on over to The Ark this week to hear “Changes, Pts. 1 & 2,” Francis’ most well-known song. Ponder will be performing “Fray,” her personal favorite, and “Someone Like You,” a fan favorite.

You can purchase tickets online or at the door. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. performance. With a capacity of just 400, there are no bad seats at The Ark. However, general admission seats do go fast so get there early.

If you aren’t able to catch them in Ann Arbor, check out Francis’ and Ponder’s upcoming tour schedules.

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